In my last post (found here) I shared how we can use provocations to explore key themes and ideas in Dan Santat’s picture book “Beekle” and I hinted that there was an opportunity to explore POV writing.
I love that “Beekle” explores the passions and hobbies that children have, so the creative extension for this book is two fold:
Creating Imaginary Creatures
First, we had students brainstorm what their hobbies were. Then we had them select one hobby specifically and asked them to create and draw an imaginary creature that could help them participate in that hobby. For instance, my favourite hobby is reading, so I created a imaginary friend that was bookworm named Story. Story lives in a library, loves to spend afternoons reading books and drinking Starbucks and she reads so much that she needs glasses. She may also be slightly autobiographical 😉 Before students were send off to create, I asked several to share their ideas, having them draw connections between their hobbies and some of the visual details of their creature. We used the child/creature pairings seen above (and found inside the endpapers of the picture book) as a mentor text to guide our creations.
Once students had created their imaginary friend, we had them write friendly letters from the perspective of their creatures. Specifically, the purpose of the letter was to find a child to be their friend. Using an anchor chart as a guide to the friendly letter format, I modelled the process of writing a letter on chart paper, pretending to be my imaginary friend Story, seeking a real child to be my friend. Working my way through the various friendly letter elements, I thought and wrote aloud, sometimes asking students for input if I got stuck in my writing. We paused occasionally in the writing to go back and read the letter out loud as a group. This acted as both an editing process and an opportunity to make a reading/writing connection (thank you Regie) Once we were done writing, students that were ready to write headed back to their desks, while students that still needed “thinking time” stayed on the carpet with me. Using a post it note to take brief notes, I quickly conferenced with the students that remained behind (5 or 6) . After watching a few conferences, 2 or 3 students got inspired and headed back to their desks to write. After a few minutes all students had an idea and were actively engaged in writing, often consulting my sample letter or the anchor chart if they got stuck.
I wish I could say I had some pics of the finished drawings and letters, but sadly the end of the year came quickly and I didn’t get a chance to to revisit the classrooms that I was working in. However, the teachers in those classrooms (hello again Jeremy and Megan!) told me that the finished letters and drawings were very creative (and adorable)- and the kids really enjoyed the process, so I’ll consider that a win!
If you end up trying this in your classroom, please send me some pics!